best composite deck cleaner

How to Clean Composite Decking – The In-Depth Guide

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Composite decking is a popular choice when it comes to outdoor areas. Since the decking is exposed to all kinds of weather and temperatures, it does require a little upkeep. You will need to keep the surface as dry as possible and sweep the deck regularly to keep leaves and dirt away. Composite decking will also need to be washed on occasion, preferably with a composite deck cleaner. This will help to keep any mildew or mold from growing. This is where we come in, to help you learn how to clean composite decking properly.



Why Choose Composite Decking

Since composite decking is made up of recycled plastic and wood pieces, it is an eco-friendly option. You might not get the exact natural wood look; however, this type of decking does come in a variety of wood colors and tones. So, there should be a product that suits your design and décor. Some composite decking even replicates the wood grain effect, within the mold when creating the product, or in the color itself.

The composite decking is mainly produced in the form of planks, but you can also get it as a decking tile. The tiles are a good idea if you do not want to replace an entire existing wood deck, simply place the tiles over the wood. The tiles are interlocking and can easily be installed by yourself. The Advantages of Composite Decking:

  • You will not have to worry about rotting wood
  • Composite decking lasts a long time
  • It is durable
  • Eco-friendly, as it uses recycled components
  • Easy to maintain

composite deck brightener



Cleaning Composite Decking

When it comes to cleaning your composite deck, it can be a little different from keeping a natural deck clean. In both cases, good maintenance will go a long way to improve the longevity of your deck surface.

If you are cleaning composite decking, you should avoid using any harsh chemicals. The chemicals will only damage the composite deck and you do not want this to happen. How to clean composite decking is an extremely easy process. Even though you can purchase deck cleaners, you can also use your own cleaner. Simply combine some water and mild dish soap, then use a soft bristle brush to apply this to your deck surface.

Scrub onto the surface, doing one section each time, and then rinse off. A power washer can also be used for added effectiveness. The power washer should be less than 3000 psi (pound per square inch). You can use the fan attachment, which can be held about eight inches from the deck surface. This will easily remove any surface dirt and will leave your composite deck looking brand new. Composite decks only need to be cleaned to keep the surface looking good, whereas wood decks require regular cleaning to avoid problems that might be costly in the long run.


Step 1: Clearing the Deck

Remove any furniture on the deck and anything else that is on the deck surface. You will need a clear surface in order to clean the entire area.


Step 2: Pre-Clean the Composite Deck

Next, when cleaning composite decking you can get rid of any loose dirt by sweeping or rinsing it off with a garden hose.


Step 3: Cleaning Your Composite Deck

You can now use some soapy water and brush to scrub the surface or apply your chosen composite deck cleaner.


Step 4: Rinse off Deck

Once you have cleaned the deck, you can then rinse off with a garden hose.

Note: Today, many composite deck materials are capped with a non-organic material like PVC, so mold cannot grow on it. So, the surface will not discolor as it did before. However, a deck sealer can be used if necessary.

cleaning composite decking



Other Types of Deck Materials and Cleaners

Deck cleaners are there to help remove any dirt, but can also be used to help prevent stains, remove grease and mold. Different deck materials might also need specific deck cleaners to be effective. So, you will need to choose a deck cleaner that is effective for both the type of deck and the dirt or grease that needs removing.


Wood Decks and Dirt

You can get all-purpose wood deck cleaners that help to dissolve any grease or dirt on the wood surface. These products come in pre-mixed containers so you can use them straight away, or they can come in a more concentrated form. The concentrated liquid or crystal forms must be diluted before you use them.

These wood deck cleaners are perfect for outdoor wood surfaces like teak, cedar, and redwood. You can also use it on wood that has been pressure treated with ACQ (Alkaline Copper Quaternary) or CA (Copper Azole).

You apply the deck cleaner using either a deck brush, mop or you can spray it on. Make sure to apply evenly and then rinse off with a garden hose. Sometimes, you might have to put in a little more effort by scrubbing with a brush to remove any persistent stains.


Weathered and Dull Decks

Wood decks, even though they have been sealed can weather and become dull over long periods. Any screw heads that have been placed along the grain can get rings of rust. If this is the case, a deck cleaner that lightens or brightens should help.

These are also sometimes known as restorative cleaners and they contain ingredients like oxalic acid and bleach. They can also contain oxygenated components like sodium percarbonate. These help to lighten the wood surface. This type of wood cleaner can be sprayed on or brushed on evenly. Once done, it can then be washed off using a garden hose.


Deck Cleaners for Mildew and Mold

In areas where there is a lot of rain or humidity, you will find mildew and mold growth. If left, it can cause the wood to eventually rot. Always check your decking for signs of mildew or mold. Mildew appears as white to greyish powdery blotches. Mold is seen as green or black flat spots

The deck cleaner you choose should have a mildewcide, which comes pre-mixed or as a concentrated liquid. Follow the instructions on the label, you should leave it on for a while without washing it off to effectively kill the mold or mildew. Leaving it on also allows it to seep into the wood, which then helps prevent any future problems.


Painted Decks

The best choice is to purchase an all-purpose cleaner that does not consist of harsh chemicals like ammonia. You need to treat painted wood and decks gently, as any harsh chemicals will cause damage to the surface. This could lead to peeling and cracking of the paint.

When purchasing, check the label and make sure it states no ammonia is present and that it is safe to use on a painted surface. Some cleaners also have surfactants that help to prevent any staining. The products usually come pre-mixed and can be sprayed on. Gently clean away using a mop and wipe down using a clean dry cloth.

deck cleaners



Guidelines for Purchasing Composite Deck Cleaners

A composite deck is formed using plastic and other wood byproducts. The surface is waterproof and is created to withstand decay and rotting. The traditional wood deck cleaners are too abrasive to use on composite decks, especially those that have brightening elements. These can easily strip the deck which then leaves the surface dull and unappealing.

A composite deck cleaner, which can be purchased as a premix or in a concentrated form, is usually made up of surfactants and other ingredients that will leave a thin coating on the surface. This protective coating helps to prevent any staining. Composite deck cleaners can be sprayed on, or you can also apply with a soft deck brush. Once done, you can then wash the surface off using a garden hose.

In your search for composite decking maintenance, you may have learned how to clean composite decking. However, the first step is to choose the best composite deck cleaner. So, here are some helpful tips that will help you choose wisely.

how to clean composite decking


Eco-Friendly Deck Cleaners

Some deck cleaners are made up of harmful chemicals and these can cause damage to a composite deck. Chemicals like bleach can eat away at a composite surface. So, make sure the product you choose is safe to use and can be used around pets and plants. Also, check that the product is biodegradable.


Versatile Deck Cleaners

Composite deck cleaners are specially designed to clean composite materials. However, you can find a versatile composite deck cleaner that is also versatile, meaning you can use it to clean other surfaces as well. This way, you can save money without having to buy multiple products.

composite deck cleaner


Ease of Use

Products that are easy to use are always the best option, however, some deck cleaners require effort. Some are ready to use, while others need to be diluted or prepared before application.


Composite Deck Cost

This is the last, but not least factor to consider when purchasing deck cleaners. Do some research and learn what products are recommended and then check the prices. Expensive does not always mean the best product. In some cases, you can get cheaper products that offer similar results.




Frequently Asked Questions


Is Composite Deck Cleaner Dangerous for Kids and Pets?

Yes and no. Some deck cleaners contain harsh chemicals that make it dangerous to use around pets, plants, and children. However, you also get safe to use cleaners, so at all times make sure you check the label before buying.


Is Cleaning a Composite Deck Easy?

Yes, however the time it takes to clean is subject to the type of deck cleaner you choose and the size of your deck. Some might take longer than others. Read the label for clear instructions when purchasing a deck cleaning product.


Can a Deck Cleaner Affect the Deck Color?

To be on the safe side, use a deck cleaner that does not contain any harsh chemicals to guarantee you do not affect the deck color. Harsh chemicals like bleach can eat away at painted surfaces, eventually leading to the paint peeling or cracking.


Are There Other Methods for Cleaning Composite Decking?

What makes composite decking so popular is its easy maintenance. You only need to use some soapy water to keep the surface clean. However, special deck cleaners are recommended for the best results.


What is a Composite Deck Brightener?

In cases where there is fading, staining, and grime, you might want to consider a deck brightener. This product usually contains oxalic acid that has a bleaching effect and must not be applied to painted surfaces.


A wooden deck is a beautiful thing, but you need to keep it clean and in good condition if you want to enjoy the wood for a long time. We hope that this guide has helped you to find the perfect product for keeping your deck clean and looking good!


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